Picking The Right Future Employee

In today’s economy, organizations are seeking every opportunity they can to reduce costs and increase margins. Marketing plans, purchasing strategies, and asset management are typically three of the most common ways to increase profits. Unfortunately, the one item that costs ag retailers hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars each year is often overlooked. That item is “bad hires” — employees that just don’t live up to their expectations.

In some cases, organizations will extend job offers to candidates that may not have all the skills, as it’s tough to get the right candidate to relocate to the community. Even more often, hiring managers interview several candidates and pick what they feel is the standout candidate — only for that candidate to stand out as a poor employee.

How can this be prevented? Is hiring employees as much of a gamble as it appears?

Fortunately, most hiring mistakes can be prevented, and your hiring process does not need to be as big of a risk as you might think. When an organization makes a bad hire, it often goes back to the interview process and trying to figure out what it can do different in the interview that will prevent this from happening. In fact, in the March 2010 issue of CropLife®, we offered some of the questions we utilize to find things about your candidates that can easily be overlooked with typical questions. However, it’s not your interview process and the questions you ask that will be the key to your hiring: It’s what you do BEFORE the interview that will significantly reduce the risk of hiring the wrong employee.

Don’t Assume

Many interviewers naturally assume that a well-prepared candidate is probably the best employee. What most hiring managers fail to recognize is that a well-prepared person may not be the best candidate for the job, and a well prepared interviewer will rarely make that hiring mistake. There are three critical steps that you must take if you want to reduce the risk of hiring the wrong employee.

■ Define the key job responsibilities.
■ Set realistic role expectations.
■ Analyze the work environment.

Define the key job responsibilities. The first step in preventing a poor hiring decision is to first decide what skills and attributes a candidate must possess to be able to meet the minimum requirements of the job on their first day. The key here is “the first day.” If this position requires a person to be able to do specific tasks on Day One — then those qualities must be on the list. If there are activities that need to be accomplished in a few months, and you will have time to train them — then those qualities should not be on the list. Think about the day-to-day routines of this position and all of the skills and personal attributes that are necessary to do the job well. What you may discover is that you may be setting your initial bar too high, and by default, missing out on some excellent candidates that, with a little coaching, could be star performers down the road.

Set realistic role expectations. Many, if not most, of the reasons candidates leave positions after the first year is because either they or the position didn’t live up to expectations. Before you interview the first candidate, you must first define the results you expect from this position in the first week, the first month, the first quarter, and the first year. This is a very critical step that is often overlooked. This activity will ensure both the hiring manager and the candidate that there are expected benchmarks.

For example, it’s easy to say “we expect this sales territory to have a 10% increase in profit this year.” However, it’s much more difficult to lay out the expectations for four or more benchmarks prior to that! When you really analyze the situation, is an increase what you truly expect? If this hire is replacing a good employee that left the organization, your early goals are likely to be more focused on retention. If you are hiring a location manager to “make changes,” it’s easy to say you want someone to improve things and make the necessary changes — but what changes are you expecting in the first week, month, and quarter? Are you looking for someone to get the existing staff focused and pulling in the same direction, or do you want this person to tear things down and build it back up? The same goal — but two very different timelines and methods.

Establishing these goals ahead of time will help you determine which candidates have the best ability to hit these targets. In addition, the multiple goals enhance the likelihood that a manager can resolve any issues or concerns with positive coaching long before their frustration leads to departure or they are dismissed due to not meeting annual expectations.

Analyze the work environment. Take a good look at the prospective supervisor, co-workers, customers, and anyone else an employee in this position will regularly be working for or with. Is the supervisor a hands-on manager or do they coach from a distance? Are the customers in this market loyal/high relationship buyers or is this an area with very low market share? Are the co-workers aggressive and competitive or are they reserved?

The Keys To Success

Next, think about what characteristics are necessary for a person to succeed in this environment. Consider these rules of thumb:

■ If the hiring manager is “hands-off,” then the candidate must have a high level of independence, the ability to develop plans/strategies on their own, and have enough experience to do things without seeking a second opinion.
■ If the manager is hands-on, you need a candidate that enjoys a team environment; the kind of person that enjoys bouncing thoughts and ideas off of others, and organized enough to meet the supervisor’s style of reporting and observation.
■ In a high market share territory, the candidate will typically need to have an expressive or high relationship style to be successful. People with this style develop and maintain a high level of rapport and will offer a high level of customer service. People with this style are focused on making long-term relationships and don’t like the word “no.”
■ If the territory has a low market share, the candidate will need to have a driven personality that typically thinks very strategically and seeks the constant challenges that a low market share environment provides. They are driven by making new sales and don’t care how many times they hear the word “no.” They are, however, often perceived as aggressive and can seem “pushy” to long-term customers.

So to attract, hire, and keep the right employees, preparation ahead of time can not only save you the cost of a miss-hire, but more likely help you select a future employee that can hit the organization’s goals and meet your expectations.

Leave a Reply

Employees Stories
EmployeesAsmark Institute Dedicates New Training Center To Ford West
August 6, 2014
The Asmark Institute plans to recognize the retired industry leader's years of service to the fertilizer industry at the new state-of-the-art facility in Owensboro, KY. Read More
EmployeesSyngenta: ‘Take Charge’ Of Farm Safety
June 4, 2014
Syngenta and health officials warn of four health-related challenges in agriculture and how they can be managed. Read More
EmployeesHead Start Program Prepares The Next Generation Of Ag Retailers
April 7, 2014
Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, in partnership with the Asmark Institute, are offering the Head Start Program to prepare students for work at ag retail facilities. Read More
EmployeesThree Keys To Employee Success
March 3, 2014
Increasing employee performance becomes much easier when managers follow these three simple things. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unification Approved By Board, Still Awaits Member Approval
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
Latest News
Bayer CropScience, ILeVO
Crop InputsISU: ‘Halo Effect’ From ILeVO Soybean Seed …
May 28, 2015
Farmers who were lucky enough to plant soybeans and spray pre-emergence herbicides in between rain events may now be seeing Read More
ManagementCorn Planting/Monsanto-Syngenta Update; New PrecisionAg…
May 28, 2015
Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf give updates on corn planting progress, the latest on Monsanto-Syngenta rumors and preview a brand Read More
Waterhemp in soybean stubble
HerbicidesEPA Signs Off On Monsanto’s Warrant Ultra Premix
May 27, 2015
Soybean and cotton growers looking for new tools to manage weeds will have a new, first-of-its-kind option in 2016 with Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesSTUDY: Weed Diversity Primarily Influenced By Geography
May 27, 2015
The potential long-term impacts of glyphosate-resistant crops on biodiversity of the agricultural landscape have been the subject of controversy. A Read More
Seed/BiotechAgrilead Forms Distribution Alliance With Kansas-Based …
May 27, 2015
Agrilead, Inc. announces the formation of a strategic alliance with KALO, Inc. of Overland Park, KS. Through the alliance, KALO Read More
EquipmentPrecision Tank Announces A&B Welding Acquisition
May 27, 2015
Precision Tank, a specialized tank and equipment manufacturer, announced today the acquisition of A&B Welding of Thompson, IA, a manufacturer Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementTraining Program Gives First Responders Skills For Grai…
May 27, 2015
When stored grain forms hard bridges, columns and other irregularities, those working to correct it find themselves at risk of Read More
Industry NewsBASF Sponsors Space Farming Research Project
May 26, 2015
Is it possible to produce large quantities of high quality vegetables on a space station, about 320 kilometers away from Read More
FertilizerTexas Ammonium Nitrate Bill Passes Senate, Heads To Gov…
May 26, 2015
The Texas State Senate gave final approval last Thursday to new regulations for ammonium nitrate, reports The Dallas Morning News Read More
Young corn plants
Industry NewsArysta Europe Details New Organizational Structure
May 26, 2015
Arysta LifeScience Europe recently announced a new organizational structure to leverage its scale and accelerate the company’s growth in this Read More
Syngenta Sign
Eric SfiligojMonsanto-Syngenta Could Hinge On A Judgment Of Solomon …
May 26, 2015
In the bible, the reputation of King Solomon’s wisdom in matters of despite comes from a tale of one child Read More
ManagementA New Sprayer Company & UAV Research In The Spotlig…
May 21, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a Dutch sprayer manufacturer entering the U.S. with a super-sized entry and Read More
HerbicidesFirst U.S. Sale Of Enlist Duo Herbicide Made By Dow Agr…
May 21, 2015
Dow AgroSciences has recorded the first U.S. sale of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. This marks the first commercial Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manu…
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
EquipmentNORAC Options Coming To TerraGator
May 19, 2015
Utilizing NORAC’s Standard Control technology, boom height control is now available for TerraGators with Airmax Precision 2 and Benson Booms. This Read More
Crop InputsHelena Introduces New Soil Health Product
May 19, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. is helping agricultural producers maximize yields and efficiency with the introduction of Liquid Chisel, a new product Read More
Stewardship4R Nutrient Management Planning Certification Now Avail…
May 19, 2015
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program announce a new specialty certification in Read More
Environmental Defense Fund logo
Paul SchrimpfEnvironmental Defense Fund: Appreciating Partners
May 19, 2015
I WAS deep in the throes of preparation for the Commodity Classic meeting that took place this past February, trying Read More